It's easy to pick on Microsoft. It's practically a national pastime at this point. So when they announced their Cashback program to help grow Live Search, the snears came fast and furious.
"You have to pay people to search?" they said.
Turn your laughter into claps, people. It turns out that Cashback is working. Microsoft is seeing positive results on three goals it said it would report. They are:
- Number of offers in the system
- Advertiser return on investment (ROI)
- Percentage of commercial search queries as measured by comScore
There's been a 30% increase in the number of products offered via Cashback. 4.5 million unique users per month are generating 68 million commercial queries. eBay has seen an increase of 50% on their ROI.
"We believe this early traction speaks to the differentiated and unique value proposition of Microsoft Live Search cashback for both consumers and advertisers, especially in these tough economic times," said Brad Goldberg, general manager of Microsoft Live Search.
Is it really any surprise that incentives work? No. Have you ever been listening to the radio and they're having a $1,000 giveaway? You have to be listening at the right times to call in.
Incentives are nothing new. Microsoft was smart to implement them into Live Search. People don't necessarily use Google because it's any better but because it's familiar. Live Search needs a way to get people searching, and Cashback is working to help accomplish those goals.
That may be why Microsoft is expanding Cashback by partnering with shopping cart providers Miva Merchant, Early Impact Inc. (ProductCart) and 3DCart. Through the agreement, merchants who use the shopping carts are eligible for Cashback.